May 17, 2016

Arthur’s Market Open Mic, May 11

This was my first time at this monthly series in Schenectady because on the 2nd Wednesday of each month I was at the open mic at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, run by Albany poet Don Levy. But in March he had called it quits (check out my Blog on his last open mic here). But tonight I gave Don a ride to Arthur’s Market for the open mic, not the least because we could, but also because the featured poet was Carolee Bennett. The usual host is Catherine Norr, but tonight Ginny Folger filled in for Catherine, & began by reading “Hyacinth” by poet Barbara Hill.

Don had gone in while I parked the car & signed me up first; I did an old poem, an imagining of who was on “The Noon Train,” then my new driving directions “How to Find Clit Court” (a real street in Colonie, NY). Margaret Bryant read a poem titled “To Know” set it 1971 on the death of her father, then “Pearl” from her 2010 book Aligning Stems (The Troy Book Makers). Paul Bryant announced he was “not a poet” but one does not have to be a “poet” to appreciate Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s great poem “Constantly Risking Absurdity” which he did by reading it for us.

Tonight’s featured poet, Carolee Bennett, hadn’t read out much lately — too busy writing poems & living the life that is a poem. But many of us remember her readings from a few years back & were glad to hear her read her new work (& some older pieces too). Her poems tonight had in them fish, birds, sex, grief, death, her boys & her boyfriend, sometimes many in the same poem. For example, “Insatiable” was a poem about grief & sex & had fish in it, as did “Fish in the Aquarium Always Want to be Fed” & “Let It Be.” “Night Jar” had in it images of death, including a dead bird, as did the oddly rhyming “The Mortality Rate of Birds” (& also the wonderfully titled “Sex-Starved Fruit Flies Have Shorter Lives”). There was also “Ode to the Dart Board at Cafe Hollywood” for Chris, “Prettier When You Smile” a poem written with Jill Crammond  (it applies to both), & a poem sampling phrases from nursery rhymes “On Not Shielding Young Minds from the Dark.” Her ending poems took us to outer space, one using the International Space Station for a metaphor, the other the speed of light (& her son with a broken arm in the ER). Not that my opinion matters, but I think we need to hear her read such poems more often, again.

Our host Ginny Folger brought us back to the open mic with one of her own poems “The Gin Rickey” which was about a boat, not the drink. Don Levy took on the trans-gender restroom issue with 2 poems, “Onward Christian Bigots” & the Whitmanesque “#I’llGoWithYou”. Bob Sharkey read a spooky poem “Things” about what was in the back of Woolworth’s.

Jackie Craven read a couple pieces from her “A Guide to Alien Languages” series, “Travel Advisory” & “Without Umbrellas” (on perception & communication). Carol Graser read a tender “Mary Cotter” then a piece on her children leaving home “A Goodbye Under a Snow-wet Cover."  J.J. Johnson read a baseball poem, in rhyme, about the Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (knick-named Thor), “Serving on the Mound.”

This poetry open mic is held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady’s Stockade Section, at 7:30PM — a featured poet & an open mic.

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